Whole Foods Initiates $1 Billion Share Buyback; Tops $3 Billion in Sales for Q4 2015
AUSTIN, TX – Whole Foods may be looking to revamp its pricing in the near future as the chain looks to increase shareholder confidence in its brand.
“Some would say that increasingly everyone is selling the same food and that price is all that matters,” said Co-CEO John Mackey in a conference call with analysts, according to Reuters. “We are going to be competitive on price where we need to be, but first and foremost, the Whole Foods Market brand stands for the highest quality, selection, and service.”
The natural and organic grocer has been facing increased competition lately, but remains steadfast in its resolve to grow and make progress on a number of its strategic initiatives without sacrificing its image. Such initiatives include new cash register systems that would result in faster checkout lines, a loyalty program, and competitive price-tracking tools.
As part of its Q4 2015 financial results announcement on Wednesday, Whole Foods announced that it would be initiating a $1 billion share buyback program, dividend increase, and new capital structure. In addition, the company will enter into a $500 million five-year revolving credit facility.
“We believe this capital allocation strategy positions us to take advantage of attractive conditions in the debt markets and lower our overall cost of capital, while preserving ample financial flexibility for future growth initiatives,” said Glenda Flangan, Executive Vice President and CFO.
During its fourth quarter, the retailer said that its total sales increased 6% to a record $3.4 billion.
“We recognize the need to move faster and go deeper to rebuild traffic and sales and create a solid foundation for long-term profitable growth and are taking the necessary steps to better communicate our differentiation, improve our value perception, and fundamentally evolve our business,” Co-CEO Walter Robb said in a press release.
Other highlights from the fourth quarter include:
- Comparable store sales on a constant currency basis decreased 0.2%
- EBITDA were $196 million, or 5.7% of sales
- Cash flow from operations was $132 million
Over the fiscal year, Whole Foods opened a record 38 new stores and still has plans to hit its goal of 1,200 U.S. stores.
The company announced that it has signed leases for four new stores in Cleveland, Fort Myers, Florida, Sudbury, Massachusetts, and Wheaton, Illinois. The stores in Cleveland and Wheaton will be relocations.
Whole Foods also announced that it be launching three new “365 by Whole Foods Market™” stores. These new locations will be in Cedar Park, Texas, Cincinnati, and San Francisco.
Other stores previously announced would be in Bellevue, Washington, Houston, Portland, Oregon, and Santa Monica, California. The first 365 store will be located in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.
“We’re excited to have eight leases signed for our new store concept,” said Jeff Turnas, President of 365 by Whole Foods Market. “We continue to look for strong markets and locations where we can appeal to new customers seeking a fresh, healthy, and convenient food experience.”
The first three 365 by Whole Foods Market stores are expected to open in 2016 and up to 10 stores are expected to open in 2017.
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